It's impossible to accurately predict the future and when it comes to technological innovations, it's even more true. As a child of the 70's I grew up expecting that by the year 2013 we would have computer teachers, flying cars and we would all wear really groovy looking, future clothes. While the internet and computer technology have brought about tremendous change and students are able to take classes online, it isn't the same sort of computerized teacher that I imagined when I was young.
When you look at things like Disney's Tomorrowland exhibit, it provides a peek into what people are imagining for the future. Even when things don't end up being exactly the way we'd imagined, it's still fun to think of.
With the new year on it's way, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the technological predictions for the future. According to research from Popular Mechanics, here are 9 technology innovations we have to look forward to in the next 10 years:
Language will cease to be a barrier – With all of the advancements being made in translation and the increased use of smart phones, it will become easy for people to use a virtual translator to speak for them or to translate speech into readable text. By removing the communications barrier, our society will be able to move forward into global citizenship.
Software can prevent traffic jams – IBM is currently using archived road data, maps, historic traffic data and other information to create a modeling program that can predict and recognize traffic jams before they happen. By knowing early, steps can be taken to prevent bumper-to-bumper jams and minimize delays. The early tests on the program are promising and they were even able to accurately predict and handle traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Self cleaning buildings will protect the environment – With climate change being such a hot topic, engineers have been looking for ways to help clean the air and reduce toxic emissions. A new plan is being tested using aluminum and titanium dioxide building materials. The idea is that when sunlight hits the building it releases free radicals which break down grime and converts toxic nitrogen oxide molecules in the air into harmless nitrates that wash away in the rain.
Climate controlled jackets will protect people from weather extremes – A former MIT student has been working on creating jackets that contain Peltier Plates which can be heated or cooled on demand. These jackets use small amounts of electricity to create a controlled climate and protects the wearer from extreme cold or blazing heat. Already American and Indian Soldiers have tested the product and have given it a positive review.
Chemotherapy will be more effective – New research into nanoparticles show great promise into how cancer is treated. It will become possible to deliver tiny doses of medicines directly to the affected area instead of the entire body. This will make treatment more effective and reduce pain and side effects.
Bridges and roads can heal themselves – I know it sounds a little crazy, but researchers are really excited about the idea of self healing concrete. Invented at the University of Michigan, this new material contains microfibers that can bend without breaking, which allows hairline fractures to heal themselves when they get wet.
Your car will be connected to everything – From Google's self driving car to the increase in Wi-Fi connection options, the cars in the next decade will be more connected than every. You'll be able to have computer navigation that factors in current traffic conditions, red lights and construction. Also, your car will be able to tell you when a part is wearing out and will communicate with other cars on the road in order to prevent accidents.
Drones will protect endangered species – Unmanned aircraft is creating a stir and changing the way that our country wages war. But did you know that they can also be used to monitor endangered species and protect the animals from poachers. Since they don't need a pilot, they can fly surveillance missions over protected lands. In Nepal, they are already experimenting with the use of hand held drones equipped with cameras to monitor animal populations.
Vaccines will cure addiction – Drug addiction is a huge problem and overcoming the addiction is difficult at best. Today, science is experimenting with the idea of creating a vaccine that will prevent illegal substances from being able to enter the blood stream, making addiction a thing of the past.
I think that the next decade holds so much promise for technological advancement. When I look back at the past 10 years and see how far we've come, it's exciting to consider how far we can go.
What advancements are you most excited for? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Image Source: MorgueFile